On Monday, December 19, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that President Obama had signed the National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) into law. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in early December and was successfully “hotlined” in the U.S. Senate—a procedure allowing uncontroversial bills to pass the Senate by unanimous consent—by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as one of the last orders of business before Congress adjourned for the year.
Introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the legislation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park System and includes a provision championed by Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus co-chairs Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to extend congressional authorization of the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) until 2023. Authorization of the HPF had expired in September 2015.
Specifically, this bill includes Reps. Turner and Blumenauer’s National Historic Preservation Amendments Act (H.R. 2817), a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the HPF that garnered a solid 64 cosponsors in the House thanks to strong support from the preservation community.
In addition to HPF reauthorization, the Centennial Act formally establishes the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund to begin addressing the massive deferred maintenance backlog in our national parks, a priority for the National Trust. The public-private Centennial Challenge Fund matches private contributions with dedicated federal funding to finance signature construction and maintenance projects and programs in our national parks. With the national park system facing an estimated $12 billion infrastructure repair backlog, the Centennial Challenge Fund is a small but important first step in addressing our parks’ long-overlooked maintenance requirements.
Also of interest to the preservation community, the Centennial Act includes a provision making the chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) a full-time position appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. It also adds the general chairman of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers as a voting member of the ACHP.
Adam Jones is the associate director of Government Relations at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.#Advocacy #AdvisoryCouncilonHistoricPreservation #HistoricPreservationFund